We've got just under two weeks to go until National Signing Day, so today I'm going to start going through Pitt's 2014 recruiting class position by position. Unlike last year (and most years) it doesn't look like there's going to be a lot of drama for the Panthers leading up to and on signing day. For as much fun as it was to watch Tyler Boyd dramatically reaffirm his commitment to Pitt last year, I'm sure Pitt fans (and, you know, reporters) will appreciate a low-stress signing day.
Before we start, a quick note on scholarship numbers. Pitt currently has 24 verbal commitments set so sign on Feb. 5. The Panthers had 84 players on scholarship last season, and 17 spots will open up with seniors leaving. That means that, if all the underclassmen came back and all 24 recruits signed, Pitt would be six over the maximum scholarship limit of 85. We know that running back Malcolm Crockett will be transferring, and defensive back Cullen Christian has been granted his release as well. I would also expect Brandon Felder, Brandon Ifill and Shane Johnson to not be with the team next year, but those are less set-in-stone. Regardless, this is a discussion that comes up every signing day, and it always ends up working out in the end. Usually, the number even gets down to 81 or 82 and the staff can hand out some walk-on scholarships.
All right, with that out of the way, let's start with the quarterback position...
Wade Freebeck (6-4, 175 lbs)
St. Thomas Aquinas (Davie, Fla.)
Rivals: 3*, No. 29 pro-style QB
Scout: 2*, No. 86 QB
247: 3*, No. 50 pro-style QB
Adam Bertke (6-5, 210 lbs)
Marion High School (Maria Stein, Ohio)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 50 QB
247: 3*, No. 33 pro-style QB
While I don't expect either of these guys to unseat Chad Voytik as the starting quarterback during fall camp, I do think either one could end up being a long-term starter for Pitt. Freebeck is probably more ready to play soon just because of the level of competition he played in high school. Before his senior season, Freebeck transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most successful programs in the country, and led the Raiders to a 10-3 record this year.
Bertke, meanwhile, played against mostly-small school competition in Ohio. Bertke, though, is a very intriguing prospect because of his size. He's listed at 6-5, but I've heard reports that he could be even taller than that. He's a bit more of a project, but one that could pay off in the long run.
Pitt is in a less-than-ideal situation at quarterback because, since Tra'von Chapman was dismissed, Voytik has zero experienced competition for the starting job this year. Competition is always a good thing heading into training camp, and if Voytik goes down with a serious injury, Pitt could be in a really dire situation at quarterback. That said, though, both Bertke and Freebeck have potential and, while the immediate situation isn't great, the Panthers will hopefully be set up nicely at quarterback in two or three years.